Shutdown takes toll on tourist arrivals in Kashmir

June 5th, 2009 - 2:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Srinagar, June 5 (ANI): Continued shutdowns and violence over the death of two women has taken a toll on the tourism sector in Kashmir.

The shutdown called by the separatists entered its fifth day on Friday.

The residents have now started feeling the pinch of the shutdown, which has caused a downslide in the tourism sector.

Around 20 per cent bookings have been cancelled in the past few days and the tourists who were in the region have left due to inconvenience caused by protests and agitations.

The decline has come at a time when the residents were hoping to recover from the massive loss they had suffered during the month-long agitation over the Amarnath land row that shook Kashmir last year.

The efforts of the State Government in projecting Kashmir as a safe tourist destination all seems to be going waste due to the frequent agitations and shutdowns.

“On one hand we say that tourists are our guests, and on the other hand, we create such a situation in the valley which forces them to leave. The aircrafts that used to come full with people are now coming empty. I appeal to the youth and the politicians who are trying to create such situation here, please take this thought out of your minds that any attempt will be made to hide the truth,” said Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister.

People connected with tourist trade are being forced to sit idle for past few days.

The daily wage earners associated with the tourism sector are the worst affected due to the shutdown.

“These agitators should think over where they want to take Kashmir and for how long they will continue to trouble the Kashmiri people. I would like to appeal to the people that they should think about the welfare of the people,” said Azim Toman, president, Houseboat Association, Kashmir.

The shutdown is also bound to affect the annual pilgrimage to revered Amarnath shrine. Despite the State Government’s efforts to ensure smooth functioning of the pilgrimage, the number of pilgrims is likely to be less this year.

“This year, the government had taken keen interest to ensure smooth yatra. There was hope that it would be good this time, but that dream is also shattered,” said Farooq Andrabi, a senior journalist.

Omar Abdullah has ordered a judicial inquiry into the deaths of two women in Shopian. A police statement said the post-mortem revealed no marks of violence. (ANI)

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